Investing in Future Outcomes
Sometimes in life, there is a chance to circle back to the path not taken. For Christopher Redlich, the path not taken was a career in science.
“I was always interested in the sciences, and fairly successful in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. That’s the way my mind works, even though I went in a whole different direction in my business career,” he says, referring to his family shipping business, Marine Terminals Corp.
When he retired, Chris decided to focus his energy on how best to improve human health and promote change in the health care system. He joined the Stanford Health Care Board of Directors and contributed to the Stanford community by being a lead donor to the new Stanford Hospital. He then began to think about how he might make an enduring contribution that would continue to make a difference in perpetuity. So that he could retain financial flexibility in case his circumstances changed, Chris decided to include a provision in his estate plan that would significantly help future generations.
Next, he considered how his bequest could make the biggest impact in the area of human health. He pursued creating a national science prize, but realized it would involve an administrative burden that would be difficult to manage. He then learned of an initiative at Stanford Medicine that addressed the critical need for funding basic research.
Basic scientists ask and answer fundamental questions: How do cells communicate with one another, and how does the brain process information? Basic science builds a foundation for understanding how complex life systems operate—mechanisms that are key to understanding disease. Health care today has been shaped by the power of basic science research.
Inspired by that potential, Chris decided that a significant portion of his estate would be devoted to establishing an endowment at Stanford to fund basic science discovery.
“I put a lot of thought and research into how my bequest at Stanford could be put to the best use,” he says. “Young faculty and postdocs have the fluidity and plasticity of mind to have lots of great ideas running in their heads. A little daydreaming goes a long way. Albert Einstein basically daydreamed his way into the theory of relativity.”
When Chris’s estate gift eventually comes to Stanford, a competitive process will provide awards that allow young faculty to come to Stanford with an idea and pursue that idea, wherever it leads, throughout their time at Stanford.
“The concept of rapid development and/or failure of ideas also appealed to me—quick prototyping, quick testing of the marketplace. Some fail, some succeed. But you get to better products faster that way,” says Chris. “This would turn the whole process on its head.”
History has shown that, when allowed the freedom to explore ideas, basic scientists often arrive at unexpected discoveries that can relieve suffering.
“We’re still in a fledgling period of biomedical research—we just don’t yet understand the complexity of the human body,” Chris says. “I want to contribute to future outcomes where we can arrest a disease before it becomes a disease, or act on a condition so the outcome is desirable as opposed to just OK. I want better outcomes.
“Hopefully, my bequest will attract other like-minded people to give through their estate or with a current gift. Basically, it’s an investment in future outcomes that otherwise would not have been achieved.”
You, too, can make an impact at Stanford Medicine with a gift in your estate plan. Just contact the Office of Planned Giving at 650.723.6560 or email@example.com for sample language you can use to include a gift to Stanford Medicine in your will or living trust.